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There Was a Crooked Man

Anytime you take two brilliant screenwriters and let them loose on a classic genre, you are usually going to get something very interesting on film. 1970's THERE WAS A CROOKED MAN is no exception.

Robert Benton (What's Up Doc?, Kramer vs Kramer) and David Newman (Superman, Superman II) were just off their first success, co-writing "Bonnie and Clyde" when they penned this funny, fast moving and genre busting western.

Kirk Douglas is charming robber Paris Pitman, whose managed to hide $500,000 from his latest heist before getting caught in a brothel with a couple of ladies of the evening (in all their 1970 R-rated glory).

Henry Fonda is Woodward Lopeman, a sheriff who's a century ahead of his time when it comes to reform versus punishment. When Lopeman takes over the prison where Pitman has just started a 20 year sentence, the two men find themselves in a clever battle of wills.

Burgess Meredith is great as "The Kid", a famous gunslinger whose been in the prison for a very long time. Warren Oates (The Wild Bunch, Stripes) is Floyd Moon, whose path has crossed before with violent results for Lopeman.

Hume Cronyn is hilarious as one half of a badly co-dependent duo of con men and John Randolph matches him as his the smarter (?) half.

As Lopeman decides to build a model territorial prison, Pitman develops a clever plan to escape and grab his hidden loot.

Fonda and Douglas are both great as two very different men on opposite sides of the law, but equally committed to their paths.

Producer/Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (Cleopatra, Sleuth) knows how to put on a show and does a fine job, creating a fast moving western with a lack of conventional heroes or frontier justice.

Great cast, great writing, great time.

The crooked man gets a B.

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